Our review guide of the best walking trousers for women and men includes some of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to buying walking trousers: Are the walking trousers lightweight and breathable? How quickly do the walking trousers dry? How comfortable are they? Are they suitable for long-distance walking? And what are the best walking trousers for value for money?
How to choose the best walking trousers
When choosing walking trousers, is good to ask yourself a few key questions: Are you looking for a pair of summer walking trousers or winter walking trousers – or do you want them to suit all seasons? Do you want them to be durable and heavy duty, protecting you as much as possible against wind and rain, or are you looking for something more lightweight, breathable and quick drying? What is your budget? And do you have a preference when it comes to materials? Sustainability, for example, may be an important factor.
All of these question will help narrow down your search, which can sometimes become a process of elimination.
Once you’ve narrowed it down, reassess each option, taking note of key features such as the number of pockets, whether the trousers zip off and if they come with a belt. How heavy are they, are they made of flexible material and can you treat them to help repel water? It’s also a good idea to look at reviews by customers who have already tested the trousers – they might have some helpful advice.
Then it just a case of buying the trousers and getting outside.
Best walking trousers at a glance
- Wayfarer Straight pant, Salomon
- Odin Huggin Pant, Helly Hansen
- Kiwi Pro II Trousers, Craghoppers
- Runbold Hiking Pants, Mammut
- Greenland Jeans, Fjällraven
Best walking trousers to buy in 2021
Berghaus Paclite Overtrousers
With super-light, pocket-sized packability, these are your perfect ‘just in case’ pants. Gore-Tex says its products all score “over 28K” for waterproofing, and these trousers have an impressive RET of under six (highly breathable), so you can trust them to keep you dry. The Gore-Tex membrane is bonded directly to an outer shell material on one side, and covered by a durable protective layer made of an anti-oil substance and carbon on the inner. Two-way, three-quarter-length side zips and an elasticated-drawcord waist give easy on-off, plus allow good venting. The simple, pocketless, unrestrictive pants with poppered hems contain blue sign-approved fabrics and come in lots of sizes and lengths.
- Weight: 238g (men’s large), 233g
- Material: two-layer Gore-Tex Paclite
Best for: being featherlight friends
Nautilus Waterproof Overtrousers
Regular hikers will be glad of these super-comfy packable trousers. They’re pretty tough, due to a 70-denier nylon 6.6 outer fabric, three-layer 20K/20K waterproofing and breathability rating, plus reinforced insteps and hems, but don’t feel at all bulky. Thanks to articulated knees, a gusseted crotch and some stretch, you can do star jumps should you wish. With a soft inner waist and zip and popper fly, plus three-quarter-length, two-way zips (water-resistant with inner storm flaps) up the sides, these pants are easy to get on and off, plus you can unzip the thighs for venting. There are three lengths and the fit is flatteringly streamlined, with a slimmer lower leg (with elasticated-drawcord hem) and no pockets. These work well all-round for a very competitive price.
- Weight: 460g (men’s medium), 420g (women’s 12)
- Material: 3 layer: 47% Nylon 66/53% Nylon Stretch, PU membrane and 20D tricot backer
Best for: durable and good value
Rab Kangri Gore-Tex Pants
Designed for long winter hikes, these robust and roomy trousers should keep you dry due to their 28K waterproofing and RET breathability value of under nine. There’s ease of movement due to the articulated knees, with Velcro adjustment at the waist and an Aquaguard fly zip, which should give you a good fit. The full-length, two-way Aquaguard YKK side zips with internal storm guards make it easy to take them on and off, and the trousers come in three lengths with the outer made from recycled material.
- Weight: 435g (men’s medium), 400g (women’s 10)
- Material: 70 Denier three-layer Gore-Tex construction and recycled polyamide outer
Best for: reliable protection
Verglas Infinity Shell Pant
Designed for serious mountain-sports addicts, these very light yet highly durable and non-restrictive shell trousers have a lower environmental impact, as half the outer fabric is recycled, plus there’s a PFC-free DWR coating, and a chemical-free, high-performance 20K+/20K+ waterproof/breathable Lifa Infinity membrane. The waist belt, zip and popper fly and soft waist lining help make these super-comfy to wear, and two-way 7/8 storm-flapped zips help with on/off and ventilation. You also get articulated knees, a zipped water-resistant thigh pocket, a Recco reflector to help rescue teams find you if you get lost in the mountains, plus details such as boot hooks. Choose from two colours; one length only.
- Weight: 400g (men’s), 383g (women’s)
- Material: HELLY TECH Professional fabric three-layer fabric construction with new Lifa Infinity technology
Best for: being made for the mountains
Montane Pac Plus XT Pants
Great for multi-day trips where space is tight, these high-performance pants pack down really small. The combo of 150 denier Gore-Tex Paclite Plus and Schoeller Keprotec Kevlar insteps give them some added durability though. No less waterproof or breathable than other Gore-Tex products, Paclite Plus saves space and weight as it has just two layers: an abrasion-resistant outer that’s laminated onto a Gore-Tex membrane which can sit next to your skin, thanks to an abrasion-resistant treatment that’s tougher and comfier than Paclite. These pocketless trousers have articulated knees and a diamond gusset for freedom of movement plus three-quarter length, two-way YKK Aquaguard side zips for venting and easy on/off. There’s an elasticated-drawcord waist and poppered hems.
- Weight: average 325g
- Material: Two-layer Gore-Tex Paclite Plus
Best for: being small but mighty
Changeable weather can be a challenge, but these super-comfy trousers are made for wearing next to your skin all day. Extremely light with great four-way stretch, gusseted crotch, articulated knees and impressive waterproofing and breathability ratings (20K and 20K+ respectively with a DWR outer), these will work well for speedy hikers in most conditions. Probably best for three-season use, though – these won’t provide much insulation on chilly days. The integrated belt allows a good fit on your waist and there are two zipped pockets. There are also ankle zips in case you need them. Just remember you’ll trade off lightness against some toughness with these nicely streamlined and flattering pants.
- Weight: 260g (men’s large), 230g (women’s 12)
- Material: three-layer Drilite Stretch 20D fabric (100% polyester with PU membrane)
Best for: hassle-free option
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- Best hiking boots
Velez Adventure Trousers
Another pair that can be worn next to your skin all day in changeable conditions (designed to cope with four hours of steady rain), these comfy, cosy, lightweight trousers use the highly breathable, ‘directional’ Nikwax Analogy Waterproof system, which involves a separate lining that helps wick away liquid sweat as well as moisture vapour, and boosts insulation. There’s also a PFC-free, water-repellent finish on the outside of these roomy pants. Features include: thigh vents, two zipped pockets, ankle adjustment, articulated knees, diamond gusset, plus elasticated waist with belt, zip and popper. Paramo recommend washing these pants regularly with their own Nikwax Tech Wash and reproofing with Nikwax TX.Direct. These are Fair Trade and recyclable through Páramo.
- Weight: 392g (men’s), 388g (women’s)
- Material: Nikwax Analogy Waterproof system and ripstop polyester
Best for: green option
Cabrach DV Trousers
If you’re a nature-spotter or dog-walker who regularly finds yourself in the undergrowth, you could consider investing in these super-tough unisex cotton trousers. How do they work? The ‘DV’ stands for Double Ventile, or two layers of the finest, longest cotton fibres, densely woven. The fibres expand when they come into contact with water, blocking it out. A DWR system on the outer surface adds to the repellency, making these “fully waterproof”. Worn next to your skin, these have four pockets and reinforced areas. Pros? They’ll last many years, and are quiet to wear with excellent breathability and windproofness. Cons? They’re heavy and bulky.
- WEIGHT: 850g
- MATERIAL: L24 Double Ventile
Best for: being mega tough
- Buy Cabrach DV Trousers now from Hilltrek
Quechua Waterproof Mountain Walking Over-trousers
Great value and no-nonsense with a streamlined style, these score a decent 10K for waterproofing and list their breathability as a very good RET 8. The elasticated-drawcord waistband with zip and popper fly give a good fit while knee-length zips allow easy on/off. There are no outer pockets, just an inner pouch that you can also store the very lightweight, non-bulky trousers in. Machine wash these at 30°C; and stick them in the tumble drier (10 mins, low temperature) to reactivate their waterproofing. These don’t have articulated knees or stretch, but are surprisingly easy unrestrictive to wear. If you’re out for shorter hikes in less extreme conditions and terrain, these should do the trick.
- Weight: 354g (men’s large), 309g (women’s medium)
- Material: three-layer. Main fabric and lining: 100% polyester; membrane: 100% polyurethane
Best for: a budget option
Keela Rainlife 5000 Trousers
As the name suggests, these robust trousers are rated a lowly 5K/5K for waterproofing and breathability. Features include: knee-length (non-water-resistant) side zips, with external storm flaps, so you can put them on over boots and two poppered slits so you can you access your trouser pockets. They come in a good choice of lengths and sizes, and are pretty light with decent packability, but seem long and very roomy in the leg, with a strongly elasticated waist. Only the men’s versions have colour options. Although the company says you can wear these solo, they felt a little clammy with the lack of breathability.
- WEIGHT: 416g (men’s), 406g (women’s)
- MATERIAL: 47% Nylon 66/53% nylon stretch PU membrane and 20D tricot backer
Best for: short strolls
Salomon Wayfarer Straight pant
In the Alps and the longer North American trails, there’s a growing interest in hiking at pace. These trousers from French firm Salomon reflect that ethos. So light, soft and stretchy you can barely feel them, these are very pleasant to wear on the trail, in warm to mild autumn weather. On really chilly days they could be a little skimpy – unless you like to move really fast. While DWR treatment will repel some water, the fabric soon gets soaked in steady rain; but it dries quickly.
They have a neat, uncluttered appearance with four discreet zippered pockets (two at the hip, on leg and one rear), making them pretty adaptable to the workplace or pub. The elasticated waist can be tightened using Velcro tabs, or opt to wear a belt.
- Weight: 292g and compact when packed
- Material: 86% polyamide, 14% elastane
Best for: mild-weather backpacking; fast-moving hikes in mild to cool weather; shortish trips by bike; lightweight travel
Helly Hansen Odin Huggin Pant
Odin Huggin Pant, Helly Hansen, £160Billed as all-season, these technical trousers really come into their own between autumn and spring. The softshell fabric is windproof and yet it also achieves Helly Hansen’s maximum rating for breathability. It contrives to feel really substantial while remaining reasonably light at 570g.
There is plenty of stretch, and some neat articulation to help you flex knees comfortably on uphill stretches. The elasticated waist can be tightened using Velcro tabs. I like the hook on the hem, which allows you to attach the trouser leg to your boot laces, in lieu of gaiters, and the cuffs, which can be secured neatly around your boot-tops.
Zips on the lower leg allow you to pull them on and off without removing your boots… handy if the weather turns warm and you want to switch to shorts. The three pockets are zippered – two at the hip and one thigh.
The designed has a couple of mildly flamboyant touches that bring to mind garments for the climbing and snowboarding fraternity: the fly is set at an angle and finished with a pair of poppers; and the lining at the waist is florescent yellow.
- Material: 96% polyamide, 6% elastane
- Weight: 570g
Best for: serious hikes between autumn and spring; windy uplands
Craghoppers Kiwi Pro II Trousers
Like the other trousers in this test, these don’t come bulging with bellows pockets and other technical bells and whistles. But they quietly include some very useful features for walkers. There are four zipped pockets, two at the hip, one each on the rear and thigh. The fabric is stretchy enough to allow you to move freely. The waist is elasticated (though not adjustable).
The fabric felt a little less breathable on test than the Salomon and Mammut trousers, but would offer good protection in cooler weather, and yet remains light at just 340g. Finally, as usual with Craghoppers gear, the price is relatively affordable.
- Material: 96% polyamide, 4% elastane
- Weight: 340g
Best for: walks between autumn and spring; travel
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- Best walks in Dartmoor National Park
- Best walks in the Brecon Beacons National Park
- Best walks in the Cairngorms National Park
Mammut Runbold Hiking Pants
Close-fitting but super-stretchy, these trousers allow you to move freely, and are both breathable and quick-drying. The ultra-light fabric won’t keep you warm if you linger on chilly days, but that’s not the point: these are for designed for moving at pace. You could almost think of them as an alternative to the kind of leggings worn by runners and cyclists – and may even appeal to those enthusiasts.
They have a simple, clean design, so that even the thigh pocket is well concealed. My only slight issue was the seam just above the knee, which I occasionally noticed dragging a little on uphill stretches.
- Weight:Light at 296g and tiny when packed
- Material: 85% polyamide, 15% Spandex
Best for: mild-weather backpackers and other lightweight travellers; moving at pace in cool weather; winter trail runs; shortish bike rides
Fjallraven Greenland Jeans
These tough trousers will tempt those who like to spend long hours roaming outdoors between autumn and spring. The sturdy fabric – G1000 Eco, made of recycled polyester and organic cotton – protects you from wind and cold, and is treated with wax to keep out the worst of the rain. Serious hill hikers will probably look for something with more give or articulation at the knees.
But if you’re the kind of walker to whom technical-style clothing doesn’t appeal, or you tend to linger outside working, wildlife-watching, mooching about in the woods or walking the dog, these make ideal protection for the dark months. There are five pockets – a pair each at hip and rear, and a thigh pocket big enough for a map.
- Material: G1000 Eco fabric – 65% recycled polyester, 35% organic cotton
- Weight: 390g
Best for: autumn and winter rambles; dog walking; wildlife-watching; working outdoors